Lonely Planet’s Thorntree

Before we embark on an adventure to a new place I used to check the Thorntree, Lonely Planet’s travel forum. With a bit of patience one will find little nuggets of useful information all related to traveling and living anywhere.

There was a time when I got addicted to it, staying up late at night just reading the threads not because I needed information about affordable hotels or bus fares, but due to the hilarious and wacky exchange of discussions and insults among posters. Thorntree, like many forum sites, has its share of regulars who enjoy sharing tips and advice, or insulting others who they think post stupid remarks or questions … or all of the above. It’s cheap entertainment for me. My favorites are of course Thailand and the Philippines. There are a few posters who kept getting kicked out for posting inflammatory comments, but they keep coming back under different aliases. The regulars who zealously guard these “branches” can usually recognize them because they use the same words, so it’s a non-ending cycle.

The Pakistan branch is also alive, but most of the questions are about areas in the north where the Karakoram highway, K2, and other mountains are. Many also wish to know about securing visas to travel to/from China and India. It’s a good way for us to know that there are still enough foreigners interested in exploring this country.

But I have been out of touch for about a year, and was surprised to see its new look. The only reason I don’t like it is because I have to adjust to the new format. There have been other changes or improvements as well. I like the little icons that allow people to mark posts that are inappropriate or they like. There are also buttons for the original poster signifying if their question(s) have been satisfactorily answered.

As we’re getting ready to fly our baby from Islamabad to the Philippines via Bangkok, then the United States via Taipei — I’m curious again to see what the folks in the Kids to Go branch are like. I hope they’re a lot nicer but no less entertaining than the ones in my old online hangout.

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